Teacher Spotlight: Barbara – Piano Teacher in Grand Prairie, TX

We are pleased to introduce Barbara, an extraordinary musician with training in piano and violin.

Barbara is a graduate of Virginia Union University, where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree with a full four-year scholarship from the music department.  She was the traveling accompanist for the University choir under the direction of the distinguished Dr. Odell Hobbs.  Additionally, she studied piano with John Probeck.  Barbara continued her musical training on full scholarship at Southern Illinois University (SIU) where she studied with Dr. Steven Barwick.  She received her Master’s in Music Education from SIU.  Barbara also worked in professional Opera musical productions such as “Treemonisha” directed by Kathren Dunham.

Barbara taught vocal, music, and theater at Hixson High school, and she taught and conducted Chanticleers at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) Cadek Music conservatory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Her musical endeavors also include working as the minister of music at Reisterown Bible Church in Reisterown, Maryland. 

After moving to Texas Barbara opened a piano studio which offered technique, music theory, music history, some ear training and elementary compositions designed to show their understanding of theory, and other musical concepts of composition.  In 2018, 20 student compositions were compiled and published.

Barbara uses musical principles to relate to life skills such as goal setting, time management, commitment, problem solving through music analyzation, and self-confidence building are hallmarks of the program’s curriculum.  A variety of musical genres (classical, praise & worship music, easy jazz, and some Asian music) is incorporated into the program. Students are taught knowledge of chords and their progressions, transposition, and ear training. Students are encouraged to aspire to excellence.

Through her music lessons, Barbara offers a unique musical experience for children, youth, and adults who are serious about perfecting their musical prowess and reaching their maximum capacity as musicians. 

If you are interested in inviting Barbara into your home to teach music lessons, enroll in Starlight Music Lessons today!

Teacher Spotlight: Ashley – Piano and Voice Teacher in Denton, TX

Ashley is a native of Houston, Texas. In 2019, she received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from McNeese State University. In 2012 she attended the University of Houston where she sang in multiple productions at the Moores School of Music. Credits include The Magic Flute,The Italian Straw Hat and Moscow, Cheryomushki. In 2012 she premiered the Houston Grand Opera song cycle, Pieces of 9/11 by Jake Heggie.

While attending the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Ashley participated in productions such as Simply Grimm at Lone Star Lyric Music Festival and Sondheim’s  A Little Night Music as Mrs. Nordstrom. In 2012 she was the first place winner of the On Your Way- Classical Voice Competition. Ashley was also a part of the prestigious Houston Grand Opera High School Voice Studio in 2012. She made her musical debut as Kate in Legally Blonde with Fort Bend Theatre. Ashley then went on to take on the role of Irene in Footloose, Hattie in Kiss Me Kate, Waitress in Rock of Ages and Johanna in Sweeney Todd.

In 2019, Ashley competed in the National Association of Teachers of Singing- Southern Region in 2019 where she won first place. Ashley is a recipient of the Juliet Hardtner Endowed Music Scholarship. She has also been featured as a soloist for Mozart’s Coronation Mass, Handel’s Messiah, and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.

In addition to her extensive performance experience, Ashley has taught privately for over two years. In 2017 she took on the position as the primary voice instructor at Southwest Louisiana Music Studios. She loves teaching children of all ages and levels as well as adults, and her teaching style can be best described as loving and caring. Ashley’s success as an educator is largely due to her ability to communicate well with her students.

What others are saying about Ashley:

Ashley has many strengths. She is a very talented singer and performer. She is also very personable and has a wonderful, upbeat personality and approach. Her perseverance as a student and young professional has always been very impressive to me as well.

– Music Director of Westminster United Methodist Church, Houston, Tx

Ashley is very outgoing and personable. She relates very well to students of different age groups/levels.

– Lake Charles, LA

Ashley is currently pursuing her Master of Music in Voice Performance at the University of North Texas. She hopes to continue to inspire young musicians as much as they inspire her. 

If you would like to have a trial lesson with Ashley, enroll in Starlight Music Lessons today!

Teacher Spotlight: Dana – Piano Teacher in Plano, TX

We are pleased to introduce Dana, our newest piano teacher in Plano, TX!

Dana began learning piano at the age of 8 and in the following years continued her education in classical piano resulting in a grade 5 for ABRSM, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music based in London. After high school she continued to pursue her musical career and now holds a Bachelors of Music in Piano from West Texas A&M. In addition to a degree in music, she is a registered music therapist in the state of Texas.

Dana is passionate about working with students of all ages. With her extensive knowledge of piano, she is able to not only teach classical but has also had experience in accompaniment and jazz.

Dana believes that the best way for a student to learn is for the student to understand and love what they are doing. She understands that each student learns differently and incorporates the student’s interests into her teaching to help the student reach their full potential. Dana wants each of her students to reach their goals, but believes that it is important that the student enjoys learning in the process.

Dana has extensive experience in piano performance and therapy. She encourages her students to grow musically through her music therapy and educational skills. With her music therapy certification, she brings a unique and adaptable approach to each student and is passionate about watching her students flourish in a musical setting.

If you would like to have a trial lesson with Dana, enroll in Starlight Music Lessons today!

Teacher Spotlight: Trevor – Guitar, Violin, and Voice Teacher in McKinney, TX

Trevor has been engaged in music from a very early age, when he was first enrolled in beginner’s piano lessons at age six. While this training gave him some preliminary skills in reading music and playing very basic scales and children’s pieces, his true, feverous passion for music wasn’t fully ignited until he started taking guitar lessons at around age eight. What swiftly followed was a strong love for most sub-genres of alternative rock that endures to this day, and inspired him even while he was still in elementary to begin to attempt to write his own songs for guitar and vocals.

Between the sixth grade and his senior year in high school, Trevor was further instructed in guitar by Warren McDonald, a widely acclaimed private teacher in Allen, TX who is a graduate of the University of North Texas’ highly renowned, competitive, and skilled College of Music.

Simultaneously, also starting during his time in the sixth grade, Trevor joined the Faubion Middle School orchestra in McKinney, TX, and began private lessons as a violist. These lessons continued with various different instructors all throughout the remainder of middle school, his time as a member of the McKinney High School orchestra, and his time in the Southwestern University String and Wind Ensemble in Georgetown, TX, where he served as the first chair violist during his Junior and Senior years. At the same time, during these final two years of college, Trevor also started viola training with local Austin Symphony Orchestra violist Blake Turner.

In addition to all of this guitar and viola education, Trevor, initially seeking to simply improve his ability to sing rock music, took formal solo vocal lessons between his Sophomore and Senior years of high school with fellow McKinney resident, Luann Ewbank, a regular private teacher for many local choir students. Not only did all of this instruction greatly improve his singing skills and unlock his full tenor range potential (gotta be able to howl for those rock songs!), but Luann also trained Trevor in opera arias. Both of these newly gained skills later allowed Trevor to perform in his university’s highly praised acapella group “Sailors and Sirens” for about a year. 

Trevor is a friendly and easy-going instructor. He desires to foster not only a strong teacher/student relationship, but a friendship that will allow the student to feel comfortable enough to be honest about where they’re currently at with their skills, how much they practiced and how the practice went, ask questions, articulate their ideas, play their best when asked, etc. Having been a music student in some form or another for around fifteen years, Trevor understands frustrating practice can be and wants to balance making sure that the student is genuinely enjoying the lessons and their instrument while also still improving their skills.

Trevor is available to train students in practically any form of pop/rock or folk on guitar, viola/violin and vocals and can teach more classical styles and techniques on viola/violin and vocals.

Trevor attained his Bachelor’s of Music in Music Theory/Composition from Southwestern University, where he spent several years taking courses in music theory, solfege/ear training, music literature, orchestration, music technology, conducting, etc., and studied composition for around two and a half years with Dr. Jason Hoogerhyde and Dr. Michael Mikulka for just over four months. Trevor is a passionate singer/songwriter/composer and is highly qualified to also teach songwriting/music composition to any interested students.

Teacher Spotlight: Mai – Piano Teacher in Denton, TX

Mai began piano lessons when she was 4 years old. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She is currently pursuing her doctorate at the University of North Texas under Gold Medalist of the prestigious Van Cliburn Competition, Vladimir Viardo.

Mai has appeared in various venues throughout the world, from Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C., to Miyama Conseru in Japan. Her performance of the Saint-Saens’ Second Piano Concerto with the Eastern Music Festival orchestra was praised for “dominat[ing] the music from the start, with a strong technique and unflagging energy” (Classical Voice of North Carolina). She has received many awards in competitions, including the Eastern Music Festival Solo and Concerto Competitions, Carmel Society Piano Competition, MTAC Solo and Concerto Piano Competitions, among others.

Mai has experience teaching music to wide ranges of ages and levels. While at Indiana University, she was an Associate Instructor for two years, teaching university level class piano and private lessons for music and non-music majors. Mai has taught many pre-college students as well, ranging from age four up to high school.

Mai’s goal and passion is not only to show her students that making music is fun, but also to help them discover that working hard towards a goal can be enjoyable and well worth it. What we can achieve through dedication will be beyond just playing the correct notes at the correct timing; that’s where the real fun of music making starts! Mai has a very friendly personality and always strives to put herself in the students’ shoes.

Mai believes that a great teacher also needs to be a great performer. As an active performer and a doctoral candidate in piano performance, she can teach from the perspectives of a musician and a student. Having studied with teachers from the United States, Japan, Belgium, France, and Russia, she also enjoys having a variety of approaches to piano playing.

What others are saying:

Mai works with my four children, ages 6, 8, 9, and 11. She is wonderful! My kids love her and look forward to lessons each week. She has the perfect balance of patience and push. She is sweet with each of my kids, but she pushes them to their potential. They practice and are making great strides musically. I couldn’t be more pleased with a piano teacher.

– Providence Village, TX

If you are looking for a great piano teacher, look no further! Enroll in Starlight Music Lessons today and meet Mai!

Teacher Spotlight: Jonny – Drum & Guitar Teacher in Dallas, TX

We are so pleased to introduce Jonny, our talented guitar and drum teacher in Dallas, TX!

Teaching Background:
Jonny is a multi instrumentalist, with experience in guitar and drums. He has studied both instruments for roughly 18 years, including 10 years of on-stage experience, with two professional acts.
Educational Background:
Growing up, Jonny’s first instrument was percussion. Excelling on the drum kit, he gravitated toward jazz and marching band in high school, where he earned a spot as the first freshman quint tenor player in school history. He later went on to play as a touring drummer for a Dallas rock group.

Although he first enjoyed guitar as a hobby, Jonny began studying theory and writing original music throughout his teen years and now plays regularly around the southwest with his band.

Teaching Style/Special Skills:   With a bachelors degree from Texas tech in exercise science, it’s his minor in psychology and coaching that lend a hand to his teaching methods. His lessons are all about the student’s interests and goals pertaining to music. Whether it be ear training, theory, or just learning how to jam along to a few of your favorite songs, Jonny can get you to where you want to go and knows how to have a great time along the way!

“Jonny gives both of my sons guitar lessons. He is WONDERFUL! He is patient, kind, explains concepts clearly, and keeps the boys excited to see him each week. We are so grateful for Jonny!”

~ Owner of Starlight Music Lessons

Jonny is a great teacher. If you choose to have him come to your home for guitar or drums lessons, you will not be disappointed! If you are ready to enroll, click here to fill out our quick enrollment form.

Click here to contact us about scheduling a trial lesson with Jonny. If you live in another city or would like to inquire about our other teachers, let us know! We will do everything we can to match you with your ideal teacher!

The Importance of Effective Piano Practice

Is practicing a chore at your home? Developing consistent and effective piano practice habits is often the biggest struggle for those learning the instrument. Sometimes you just need a little help. If practicing is a struggle in your home, you could definitely benefit from our Practice Pals program. This program allows you or your child to have a Practice Leader actually practice with you three times each week! This is a great opportunity for beginning students as well as for those who have been playing for years.

Practice Pals can help teach a student how to practice the piano by walking with the student through his/her piano practice assignments throughout the week in a fun, engaging way. This will help lay a solid foundation for long-term musical success. It is crucial for a student to not only practice, but practice in such a way to make that time effective. If a student doesn’t know how to practice, much time will be wasted. Many students get discouraged due to ineffective practicing habits, leading to quitting private lessons. We have spoken with many adults who have had that experience themselves, only to regret their decision to quit music lessons.

We want to help! Practicing doesn’t have to be a chore! Give Practice Pals a try and see the amazing difference in your child’s progress! Don’t let your kid be the one who grows weary of the process and quits, only to regret that decision for the rest of their lives. Contact us today to get started with Practice Pals!

Repertoire List

Music lessons are most successful when you, the parent, are involved. We teachers are more than happy to help discover what will make your music lessons more successful. Sometimes a few small adjustments can make a huge difference. One thing that might be a good idea to discuss with your teacher is working on a repertoire list. In case you are unfamiliar with this term, repertoire (repə(r)ˌtwär) simply means the songs that the student has practiced and can perform well. Some students might be discouraged because they feel they can’t really perform if someone asks them to play. This can easily be remedied! Often students know many more songs than they realize, they just haven’t taken the time to write these songs down, so they simply forget what they are able to perform. Creating a repertoire list can be so beneficial!

  1. Writing down a list of songs that the student worked hard on and can play well works as a visual reminder of the students’ continuing progress.  
  2. Having a repertoire list makes it possible to have impromptu performances/recitals. Personal story: I was raised in a very musical family, and every type of gathering involved musical performances. As a kid I dreaded this because I never felt prepared. Oh, I had practiced plenty and had perfected many songs, but as I continued gaining new songs to work on, I easily forgot about the old ones. I didn’t know off the top of my head what I was able to play or sing. Once I sat down and made a list of all the songs I knew well, I felt much more prepared in the event someone asked me to play or sing something. And all the effort I had put toward my musical development finally started paying off.
  3. Adding songs to one’s repertoire can work as a great motivator. Maybe a student has 5 songs in his repertoire. Well, set a goal! Encourage him to get 10 songs on the list! Reward him for doing so! (This reward may or may not cost money, depending on what you prefer.) Adding songs to a students’ repertoire list can be such a feeling of accomplishment.

Don’t be afraid to set goals with your child! Was practicing a struggle last year? What can be done to turn that around? Of course Starlight has an incredible Practice Pals program that you can take advantage of. Practicing is non-negotiable when it comes to developing a skill, especially music. Have you ever met an amazing athlete who only participates in games? No, great athletes practice, practice, practice! What about spelling? What child wins a spelling bee without practice? What child learns to read well without lots of practice? Do you know a computer programmer, writer, dancer, gymnast, public speaker, actor, etc? These people don’t become great without much practice. Music is no different.


Not only will practice help the student progress musically, but the diligence that must be learned in order to commit and practice regularly will absolutely transfer to other parts of life.

So go ahead, have the courage, commitment, confidence, and persistence to make this year a better year! Make that repertoire list and start adding to it! Happy performing!

Piano Recital

So, what’s so great about recitals, you may ask?

Well, first of all, a piano recital is a great way for students to showcase what they have accomplished musically. Learning an instrument is tough! Becoming skilled on an instrument takes much dedication, hard work, and often goes un-rewarded. When a student has the opportunity to walk on stage to show off what he or she has learned, the sense of pride and accomplishment the musician feels is unmatched. Seeing the smiling faces and hearing the applause from loved ones and complete strangers reignites the passion and determination it takes to become a skilled musician.

Piano recitals also play a big role in building a musician’s confidence in performing. It is so disappointing to a musician to put so much work into learning an instrument, yet be unable to share that skill with others simply because he or she is too afraid to perform for others. Starlight Music Lessons’ recitals provide a safe and supportive environment to help build a musician’s confidence in performing as he learns his instrument. She doesn’t have to worry about people laughing at her mistakes or judging her nervousness. We all understand that performing is difficult, and becoming a great performer takes practice, just like anything else. So Starlight students can feel confident to walk up on stage and do their best. Once they realize how great  it feels to perform and see the fruit of their labors, they will have more confidence in their own performing abilities. Even if a student does not aspire to be a professional musician, participating in recitals helps the student develop the confidence required to simply share music with others in small ways: playing for relatives at a reunion, singing for residents at a nursing home, bringing a smile to someone’s face by sharing a beautiful musical piece.

Piano recitals are rewarding for parents. You have spent good money on your child’s lessons. Nothing beats watching your pride and joy walk up on stage and perform. It is such a great moment when you are able to see the fruit of your own labor: paying for lessons, encouraging your child to practice, making time for the lessons. When you see your young musician on stage nailing a piece, the value of what you have been providing for your child is suddenly clear.

Along those same lines, recitals also become benchmarks for measuring the student’s progress. As a parent listening to the lessons week by week, it is easy to miss the subtle progress being made. But when you compare videos and songs from recitals, you will be amazed by the noticeable improvement in your child’s abilities from one recital to the next!

And finally, a piano recital is such a blessing to teachers. Your teacher puts so much effort and care into molding your child into a skilled musician. When we, as teachers, are able to see our students pull off those songs we and the students have been working so hard on, as teachers, our hearts swell with pride for our students! We love them dearly, and it means the world to see our students become skilled musicians.

Recitals have even more benefits, but we’ll stop there for now. We sincerely hope you will make time for a piano recital this year!

Overcoming Performance Anxiety

Performance anxiety is a natural response to having to get up in front of others to showcase a skill. If you have a child preparing to perform? Are YOU nervous for your child? We’re going to share some tips with you regarding overcoming performance anxiety.


Before we get into tips for your child, lets talk about you for a moment. As your child prepares for a music recital, if you are experiencing performance anxiety on your child’s behalf, that’s perfectly normal, but what you decide to do with that anxiety can have an impact on how your child is able to handle his/her own nervousness. If you are stressed about your child performing, try to relax, at least in front of your child. Your stress is contagious, and if your child is already nervous, your stress will make it worse for him. She will pick up on your anxious cues and become anxious herself, even if she wasn’t really that nervous to begin with. And just remember: playing in a recital is a wonderful growth opportunity for your child, and even if he/she does make a mistake it’s not the end of the world. So try to enjoy the process.


Okay, so how can your child deal with his performance anxiety? Well, the first thing is to recognize that feeling nervous is not a bad thing! Most performers (even professional) get jitters before they go on stage. These jitters are from adrenalin rushing through our bodies. Musicians need to learn how to harness this adrenalin and use it to their advantage to power their performance with confidence, passion, and power. This adrenalin is a signal to the brain that it needs to “turn on” and work with excellence.

Here are a few tips to gain control over performance anxiety:

  1. Think positively. Don’t focus on what you might do wrong. Set goals for yourself, and repeat these goals to yourself. For example the student can say to himself, “I am going to play wonderfully.” Or “I will be calm and confident and give a fantastic performance.”
    • Don’t focus on negatives or timid thinking such as, “I hope I don’t mess up.” Or “I won’t forget my songs.” Make sure the thoughts stay positive, focusing on what you WILL do as opposed to what you WON’T do or HOPE you will or won’t do.
  2. Breathe! When we are scared we start breathing quickly. Focusing on taking deep breaths and slowing down the breathing will effectively help relax the body and mind.
  3. Rehearse. Obviously we all know practicing the songs is very important, but also important is actually rehearsing. Make sure to run through the performance routine many times in the weeks leading up to the recital. If the student goes through the motions enough times it will become second nature to her. Stress often comes from the fear of the unknown, or unanswered questions. As I was developing my music abilities, much of my stress before performances came from not knowing how things would play out. When do I bow? When will I walk on stage? Will I be in the audience or backstage, etc. I knew the music very well, but not being confident in all the other little things can shake a person’s confidence. So, rehearse many times so you don’t have to worry about the little extras. Click here to read Starlight’s Recital Preparation Tips.
  4. Visualize. Imagine (with a positive attitude) what it will be like to walk on stage. Imagine yourself playing the song perfectly. Visualize how pleased the audience will be. Hear the applause in your head. Smile! See yourself stand up and take a bow. Imagine the satisfaction and victory you will feel by working so hard and performing well.  
  5. On the day of the recital, relax. Get a good night’s sleep the day before, eat nutritiously, and relax. Try to allow extra time to get ready so you’re not rushing around. If the performer is stressed about other things, that will carry over into their feelings about performing.
    • Note on nutrition: parents, be mindful of the food you’re feeding your children on the day of the recital. It might sound fun to make a special breakfast or lunch loaded with white flour and sugar, but be mindful that sugar, white flour, caffeine, etc. will make the child feel more anxious leading up to the performance. It will truly help them if you feed them proteins, vegetables, and good fats.

Well, there you have it, hopefully some of these tips will help your child harness the adrenalin rush that comes from getting up on stage instead of experiencing performance anxiety. At the end of the day, focus as much as possible on making the performance fun and enjoyable!